COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Businesses near Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs are waiting to see what impact a bridge-improvement project will have on them.
City workers start Sunday night on the Academy Boulevard bridge over Platte Avenue. The project is part of a larger plan to repave a mile-long stretch of Academy between Bijou Street and Palmer Park Boulevard.
The bridge is on the south end of that stretch.
Zaire Patrick, owner of the nearby Trash, Urban Fashion clothing store, said business has been good since he opened in June and hopes the project won't discourage customers from coming to the area.
A flashing message board informing drivers of the coming project is outside Patrick's parking lot. However, he sees the project as a benefit.
"Maybe it will make drivers slow down and notice my shop more than they would have otherwise," he sad. "I'm not overly concerned."
But a driver expressed more concern about the situation.
"It's going to affect us tremendously," said L.T. Gonzales while sitting in his vehicle at a gas station near Academy and Bijou. "Especially for those who work around this area. It's going to be pretty hectic. But I think we can get through it. If the work needs to be done, I'm glad they're doing it."
Aaron Egbert, the city's senior civil engineer, said the city has notified area business owners about the upcoming project, and held public hearings about it, as well.
"I don't think we'll affect most of the businesses because the bridge is south of most of them," he said.
Egbert said the bridge work will be the first the city has done at that location since assuming responsibility from the state several years ago.
"We're taking advantage of the repaving project so that we can open asphalt on the bridge, do some exploratory work, do any necessary deck patching and waterproof the deck," he said. "It's a good way to extend the life of the bridge without replacing it."
During the project, drivers on Academy will not be allowed to make left turns onto Platte.
Periodically, Academy traffic in both directions on the bridge -- and a few blocks to the north and south -- will shift from the northbound lanes to the southbound lanes. Workers already have placed asphalt on the medians there to accommodate the switch.
Work will be done during the day except for two nights when traffic under the bridge on Platte will be closed.
To give workers as much space as possible, drivers are asked to detour around the area by taking Galley Road to the north and Bijou to the south.
The three-week, $300,000 project is paid for from the bridge maintenance fund of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority tax.
Preliminary work on the Academy repaving project has been done, but most of the actual repaving is scheduled for next spring.